Stoke-on-Trent couple fined £1,200 after clearing up rubbish

By Alex McIntyreBBC News, West Midlands • PA MediaNews Agency

Collect/PA Real Life Veronika Mike and Zoltan Pinter. Ms Mike has long, blonde hair past her shoulders and a black top. Mr Pinter has a brown T-shirt on and has a shaved head. They sit in the corner of what looks like a living room.Collect/PA Real Life

Veronika Mike and Zoltan Pinter were each fined £600

A couple who cleared up rubbish on their street and left it in a box for bin collectors have been fined £1,200.

Veronika Mike and Zoltan Pinter, from Stoke-on-Trent, said their road had been blighted with “disgusting” litter for years.

But after Mr Pinter cleaned up some of the rubbish and left it out in a cardboard box, the pair each received £600 fines.

The city council said all fly-tippers would be punished with fixed penalty notices and considered the matter resolved.

Ms Mike, 41, said people would often dump waste around the bins on their street which she claimed would not get collected and would attract animals.

“I’m actually afraid to walk past it in the street because I’ve seen a lot of rats and what looks like stray cats,” she said.

Collect/PA Real Life The cardboard box which Mr Pinter left out for collection. The box has paper inside it and is beside two wheelie bins which have bags of rubbish bulging out and are in an alley with a bag of rubbish behind the boxCollect/PA Real Life

Mr Pinter said he collected loose rubbish and placed it into a cardboard box

Mr Pinter, 46, collected the rubbish into the box, which had his name printed on it, on 29 April after seeing the litter blowing around.

He said the bins on the street were full so he had to leave the box next to them in the hope it would be collected.

In the letter informing the pair of the fines dated 8 May, the council said they had failed “to transfer household waste to an authorised authority”.

“We just wanted to clean our street and that’s the thanks we get from the council,” Ms Mike said.

“At first I was very angry and I cried.”

Mr Pinter paid the fine immediately while Ms Mike is paying it off in monthly instalments of £100.

Collect/PA Real Life Loose rubbish on the couple's street in Stoke-on-Trent. Bags of rubbish lie next to a hedge on an alleywayCollect/PA Real Life

The couple said loose rubbish on the street attracted rats

The couple tried to appeal the council’s decision and said they contacted the charity Citizens Advice but were told the law was “black and white”.

An online fundraiser was launched to help them cover the costs while neighbours also signed a letter to the council.

After their experience, the couple said they would never clean their street again.

“Even if the rats come, we are too afraid to do anything now,” Ms Mike said.

City councillor Amjid Wazir said the authority considered the matter resolved.

“We remind residents and businesses that fly-tipping is an offence and all perpetrators will be met with a fixed penalty notice,” he said.

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